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How to Clean a Carpet Without a Vacuum Cleaner

Written by Kaylee Barber |

How to clean a carpet without a vacuum

Is your vacuum broken? Don’t despair! Here are some simple techniques for cleaning a carpet without a vacuum cleaner.

It is possible to clean your carpet without using a vacuum cleaner. Whilst a vacuum is always the fastest way to remove debris, if you’re suddenly without one, then there are alternatives.

This guide will show you various methods to effectively clean your carpet without vacuum cleaners. So if you’re ever in a situation where your vacuum is on low charge or has stopped working, you’ll have some backup options for cleaning carpets in your home!

Is it Possible to Get a Carpet Clean Without a Vacuum?

Yes! Despite the vacuum cleaner being a handy appliance in the home to remove dirt and debris from your carpets quickly, there are ways to get your carpets clean without it.

From steam mops to lint rollers, many homeowners have had to get creative when finding themselves without a vacuum.

The Old-School Carpet Sweeper Method

Sweeper method

When it comes to cleaning your carpets, you’ll often find that you don’t need a cupboard full of cleaning products. Sometimes, a simple manual carpet sweeper can get the job done.

With this method, all you need is a carpet sweeper and a tennis racket or paddle. Carpet sweepers are mechanical devices that were around before vacuums existed, and many people still have them hanging around their houses. Here are the steps required to clean your carpets using this method:

  • Step 1 – Remove any large to medium-sized bits of debris from the carpet surface by hand.
  • Step 2 – Use the carpet sweeper to remove small bits of debris from the carpet or rugs.
  • Step 3 – Repeat the process with the sweeper to remove finer dust or debris.
  • Step 4 – Use the racket or paddle to loosen and beat away any debris left on rugs. It’s advisable to do this outside, as a lot of dust will be released!

Other Ways To Clean a Carpet Without a Vacuum

There are a number of other ways that you can clean a carpet without the use of your handy vacuum. Here are a few methods that you can adapt to when it comes to spot cleaning or cleaning the entire carpet where required.

Lint Roller

A lint roller is great at picking up dust and debris, just like a vacuum. Here are the helpful steps required when using a lint:

  • Step 1 – Remove any larger debris by hand whenever possible.
  • Step 2 – Start rolling the lint roller over the carpet to pick up debris. You might be surprised by how much is removed!
  • Step 3 – Replace the tape or lint roller as and when it runs out of stickiness or is full of debris.

Dustpan and Brush

Just like the carpet sweeper, the dustpan and brush were used regularly before vacuums existed.

While it’s true that a dustpan is much more effective on hard floors, they can still be used on carpet if you have no other options. Make sure it’s a soft brush, however, as hard bristles could damage your carpet’s fibres.

Here are a few steps to help effectively clean your whole carpet of hair and pet fur, as well as other debris.

  • Step 1– Shake off any excess dirt from the brush.
  • Step 2 – Sweep the carpet by moving in one direction each time.
  • Step 3 – Use the dustpan to collect the debris as you go.

Carpet Shampoos

If you want to deep clean your carpet, then cleaning it with carpet shampoo is a great option – especially if you don’t have access to a carpet cleaning machine.

Here’s how to clean a small section of carpet with a carpet shampoo:

  1. If necessary, dilute the shampoo with water, following the instructions on the bottle. It’s vital to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damaging your carpet.
  2. Use a spray bottle to spray a small amount of the mixed solution onto the area you want to clean. Don’t saturate the carpet, as this increases drying time and wastes your shampoo.
  3. Use a carpet brush on the area to remove deeper dirt. Don’t scrub too hard though!
  4. Blot up as much of the solution as possible with a clean white towel. Don’t use coloured towels, as this can cause a stain.
  5. Use a separate spray bottle to rinse the area with fresh water.
  6. Again, blot up the excess water with a different clean white towel.
  7. Allow the carpet enough time to dry fully before walking on it.

While this method is for small patches of carpet, you can clean larger areas by repeating the process for multiple patches. It’s best to start on the far side of the room, then work back towards the door in small patches.

Remember, it can take many hours for a carpet to dry after being cleaned with shampoo. You won’t be able to walk on the carpet during this time, plus there’s also a risk of the carpet smelling damp or musty. Open windows and use a fan to speed up the drying process.

Do Not Use Packaging Tape to Clean Carpets

Some people use packaging tape to clean their carpets. The idea is to use the sticky side of the tape to pick up surface hair and other debris.

It’s true that packaging tape can do a surprisingly good job at cleaning hair from carpets. However, we do not recommend this method. There’s a chance of seriously damaging your carpet when using packaging tape, even if the risk might be small.

The main problem is that there’s a chance of the adhesive getting stuck to carpet fibres and binding them together. Tape residue can be hard to remove without pulling out the carpet fibres, especially for longer carpets. In fact, we recommend contacting a professional cleaner if your carpet has tape residue.

Repeated cleaning with tape can also cause the carpet to look old and worn.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the easiest way to clean a carpet?

The easiest way to clean your carpet is to vacuum it. However, when you don’t have a vacuum, using a lint roller is probably the next best thing.

It’s often a good idea to have a manual carpet sweeper in the house. They are great as a backup, plus they can clean light debris without needing to use electricity.

Is hiring a carpet cleaner worth it?

In short, yes! Hiring a carpet cleaner is expensive, but it can be worth it if your carpets are in need of a deeper clean. Professional cleaners have industrial type cleaners that are capable of cleaning much deeper into fibres.

We recommend giving your carpet a deep clean once every year. For spot cleaning, take a look at our guide to cleaning carpets using DIY methods.

Are commercial stain removers effective?

Whilst commercial stain remover products are effective, some of the household products you have lying around your home may do just as good of a job and without the extra cost.

Be careful when using any cleaner on a carpet for the first time though. Test it on a small patch of hidden carpet to make sure that it doesn’t cause bleaching or discolouration.

How can I keep a clean carpet looking good for longer?

The better you take care of your carpet, the longer it’ll last.

We recommend vacuuming carpets twice per week, especially if you have pets or lots of foot traffic. Avoid creating dirty shoe trails or stepping in the home with dirty socks or feet – taking your shoes off at the door is a great idea.

Make sure to clean regularly to keep on top of the debris and clean stains immediately.


Nothing beats a vacuum for cleaning dirt, hair, and other debris from carpets (other than a professional carpet clean) – but vacuums aren’t the only option. Lint rollers, manual sweepers, and even a dustpan and brush can do a decent job.

Do you have any questions about how to clean a carpet without a vacuum? Let us know in the comments section below.

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